THE BREAKDOWN: Do Downs Need To Splash The Cash On Billiat?
Can Sundowns afford to let Billiat go?
With Khama Billiat’s future at Mamelodi Sundowns under question, we take a look at whether he is replaceable and whether Pitso Mosimane will be able to replace him.
In Soccer Laduma issue number 1035’s Siya Special, the crew discussed the stagnation of talks between Billiat and his team in their negotiations for a new deal for the Zimbabwean international. However, with just over 11 months to run on his contract, the Brazilians are running out of time with the player and he will be free to open talks with other teams in January of 2018. Now Sundowns will need to assess whether or not they should give into the 2015/16 Player of the Year’s financial demands or turn their attention to finding his replacement. We now take a look at their options.
Chances of it happening: 50%
There is no doubt that Billiat has been an integral part of the Sundowns setup, having scored eight goals and making six assists in the 2016/17 Absa Premiership season, and 12 goals and 14 assists in the league winning campaign in 2015/16. However, the less obvious attribute in his game where he particularly excelled last season was that he had a final third passing accuracy of 77.2% for his 17.7 final third passes per 90 minutes, which shows exactly how incisive he was as a spearhead in Ka Bo Yellow’s attacking movements. Furthermore, his 2.62 shots per 90 minutes is evidence of his outstanding creative ability.
Sign a replacement
There are a number of players that have been linked with the Brazilians in the past. These are his options:
Chances of it happening: 40%
While Sibiya falls behind Billiat in terms of goal and assists, he has been very good at taking shots from inside the box, proving that he has what it takes to be the incisive kind of player that Billiat has been over the years. He almost matches Billiat in terms of touches and makes more passes, which shows that he has the ability on the ball to be a special player. Add a bit of context to that, which is that Sibiya was playing for Golden Arrows - who are not as successful a team as Sundowns - and that Sibiya is also just 22-years-old and therefore has the potential to grow. At this point, it would appear that allowing Sibiya to spend another season at Arrows, getting regular minutes would be the better option.
Chances of it happening: 60%
The most outstanding quality of Manyama’s is that he contributes goals, finishing as the league’s top scorer with 13 goals last season. However, he only grabbed two assists and doesn’t quite boast the same level of creativity that Billiat does. Almost half of his shots came outside of the box, which would, under regular circumstances, be unfavourable, but considering his goal tally, it’s helpful that he can be a threat from distance. However, Billiat, according to the stats, appears to be the superior player in almost every other respect.
Chances of it happening: 10%
Mahlambi appears to be destined for Europe, but otherwise seems to be an ideal candidate, considering that he’s just 19-years-old and has room to grow. Not only did he score six goals and make five assists, but he has made more open play crosses and dribbles per 90 minutes than any of the aforementioned players, showing that he has a full arsenal of attacking attributes at his feet. Not only can he cut in and be threatening as an inside forward or support striker like Billiat, but he can also take on the role of a traditional winger to support his teammates that play through the middle, which makes him the ideal candidate to replace Billiat. However, it is highly unlikely that Bidvest Wits will be willing to allow one of their standout stars join a rival club and Sundowns may not have the resources to compete with any potential European suitors.
Mamelodi Sundowns will undoubtedly do whatever they can to keep hold of him. However, if Billiat’s future is no longer in their hands, no player is bigger than the team, which Sundowns will need to accept and move on from. What’s more is that they stand to make a lot of money if they act fast.
Do you think Sundowns should allow Billiat to leave? Who would you sign as his replacement?